Fire Safety Legislation News

BSI Exclusive: The revision of forthcoming BS 7974:2018

BSI Exclusive: The revision of forthcoming BS 7974:2018

It is a busy time for the fire industry and at the British Standards Institution. 2018 will see a number of major standards and supporting documents being submitted for public comment. One of BSI’s most exciting projects to date in this sector is the revision of BS 7974 Application of fire safety engineering principles to the design of buildings – Code of practice; and a number of the associated PDs. Over a year in development, the BS 7974 suite form a fundamental building block to ensure fire safety engineering remains an integral part of building design and construction as these standards approach the public consultation period.

BS 7974 provides a framework for and describes the philosophy that underpins fire safety engineering. It outlines the principles involved in the application of the philosophy to the fire safety engineering of particular buildings. Moreover, it provides means of establishing acceptable levels of fire safety without imposing unnecessary constraints on aspects of building design, as well as providing guidance on the design and assessment of fire safety measures in buildings. The standard gives a structured approach to assessing the effectiveness of the fire safety strategy in achieving the functional objectives. Crucially, it can be used to identify and define one or more fire safety design issues to be addressed using fire safety engineering.

The appropriate part(s) of PD 7974 can then be used to set specific acceptance criteria and undertake detailed analysis. This provides alternative approaches to existing standards for fire safety and also allows the effect of departures from design codes to be evaluated, and recognizes that the functional objectives can be achieved by a range of alternative and complementary fire protection strategies. Ultimately, this aims to facilitate innovation in design without compromising safety.

The 2018 revision is the first since the standard was originally published in 2001. 17 years and nine PDs (published documents) later and it’s time to review how things have changed. While the draft text for public consultation is still being finalized, PD 7974-0:2002 Application of fire safety engineering principles to the design of buildings. Guide to design framework and fire safety engineering procedures, and PD 7974-8:2012 Application of fire safety engineering principles to the design of buildings. Property protection, business and mission continuity, and resilience have been incorporated into forthcoming BS 7974:2018. The intention behind incorporating these PDs was to reduce the instances of repeated text and improve usability.

BS 7974 is supported by a number of PDs that covers each subsystem in more detail. Over the coming months PD 7974-1 Initiation and development of fire within the enclosure of origin; PD 7974-2 Spread of smoke and toxic gases within and beyond the enclosure of origin; PD 7974-3 Structural response and fire spread beyond the enclosure of origin; PD 7974-6 Human factors. Life safety strategies. Occupant evacuation, behaviour and condition; and PD 7974-7 Probabilistic risk assessment will also be released for public comment. PDs 7974-4 Detection of fire and activation of fire protection systems and PD 7974-5 Fire and rescue service intervention may be revised at a later date.

BS 7974 should be available for comment early February 2018 with PDs 7974-1 to PD 7974-3, and PDs 7974-6 & PD 7974-7 expected by the end of Q2. The drafts can be reviewed and commented on when they become available by visiting BSI’s Standards Development Portal:

Chris Smith-Wong is a programme manager for Built Environment at the British Standards Institution

Published January 2018